Thursday October 24, 2019

To avoid Nazi confusion, Japan considers changing ‘manji’ temple icon

0
//

New Delhi: Japan will soon witness a surging influx of foreign visitors when it will host the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. However, the country is facing the dilemma of whether to identify its Buddhist temples on maps with the ‘manji’ symbol or not.

Often confused with the Nazi swastika, the symbol hailing from ancient Sanskrit means happiness and prosperity. Usually pointing counter-clockwise (the reverse of the Nazi symbol), the swastika in Japan has been used for centuries in Buddhist decorations, denoting Buddhist temples on maps.

The recommendation was based on survey results collected from more than 1,000 foreigners, including embassy officials, exchange students as well as tourists.

The symbol which has been used for centuries by Hindus and Buddhists has many Western tourists associating it with anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. This was because the emblem was adopted by Nazi Germany in order to enhance their ancient lineage.

In a bid to replace the swastika, a government panel at the Geospatial Information Authority proposed a three-tiered pagoda symbol making it a part of one of the 18 suggested icons for landmarks. Other symbols include hospitals and convenience stores for foreign-language maps as a part of a wider effort to create user-friendly maps for the growing number of foreign tourists.

Public opinion is witnessing an equal say on Twitter and other social networks with supporters attributing the change to bring about an end to the ongoing confusion among tourists and opponents discouraging such change being made for the sake of tourists. Others noted that the symbol of ‘manji’ is different from the Nazi symbol since it turns the opposite way.

The objective is to make symbols easier to understand, said geospatial authority mapping officer, Takayuki Nakamura.

“A good symbol on the map should be able to tell a visitor what it is at the first glance,” he said. “The question is whether one can easily tell it’s a temple by looking at the current symbol.”

Japan’s main Buddhist group is indifferent to the decision. This is because the change is not likely to affect domestic maps and, therefore, won’t be altering perceptions in Japan.

Referring to a common term used for the Nazi emblem, Ryoka Nishino, a spokesman for Japan Buddhist Federation said: “We are aware that some people say the ‘manji’ symbol could remind them of the ‘hakenkreuz’ symbol, which was created much later in history.”

“Even though we have more foreign visitors, our symbol that decorates each temple will stay,” he said.

Other symbols that would be altered for foreign maps include the one for a hotel, which currently looks like the symbol for helipads. The current giant X sign supposedly representing a pair of clubs for police station would be replaced by a saluting policeman.

The maps would add a new symbol for convenience stores, which is pervasive all over Japan- a sandwich and water bottle.

A final decision is expected in late March following a period of seeking public comment. (Inputs from gulfnews.com) (Image source: blogspot.com)

Next Story

Hindus in Ayodhya Donate Land to Muslims for Burial Ground to Pave Way for a Solution to Ram Temple Dispute

The land has been donated in Belarikhan village under the Gosaiganj Assembly constituency here

0
burial ground, ayodhya
The land has been donated in Belarikhan village under the Gosaiganj Assembly constituency here. Wikimedia Commons

In a gesture that could ease tension between Hindus and Muslim and, perhaps, pave the way for a solution to the Ram temple dispute, Hindus in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya district have donated land to Muslims for a burial ground.

The land has been donated in Belarikhan village under the Gosaiganj Assembly constituency here. The land had been a bone of contention between the two communities for years until now. Surya Kumar Jhinkan Maharaj, a local seer, and eight other shareholders, signed the registered deed for 1.25 bissas of land on June 20 to bury the dispute forever.

The other signatories to the land deed are Ram Prakash Bablu, Ram Singar Pandey, Ram Shabad, Jiya Ram, Subhash Chandra, Rita Devi, Vindhyachal and Awadhesh Pandey.

ayodhya, burial ground
The other signatories to the land deed are Ram Prakash Bablu, Ram Singar Pandey, Ram Shabad, Jiya Ram, Subhash Chandra, Rita Devi, Vindhyachal and Awadhesh Pandey. Wikimedia Commons

“The land belonged to Hindus as per records. It is by the side of a graveyard and some Muslims have buried their dead on the land. There were disputes and tension. But now, we have settled the matter,” said Jhinkan Maharaj.

ALSO READ: Leonardo DiCaprio Raise Awareness through Instagram about Chennai Water Crisis

The deed is now in favour of the Qabristan Committee, Gosainganj and it will soon be entered in revenue records,” said Vais Ansari, President of the Qabristan Committee. Sub-registrar S.B. Singh confirmed the transfer of land to the Muslims for the graveyard and said: “It’s a gift from the Hindu community through a proper deed and stamp duty.”

Khabbu Tiwari, the local BJP MLA who took the initiative, said: “The tradition of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood here is not new. This was a small token of love from Hindus to Muslims. I hope this amity will continue.” (IANS)